a man at his computer in the dark

Wait! The Internet Said I’m Dying!

Do you ever wonder if that pain in your side is part of your condition? Or that itch? Or the migraine? How about those restless nights? Or that random fever? You don’t know what it might be, so you panic and search online. You pull up a list of possibilities, and the only thing your search confirms is that you are dying. Are you really dying? Most likely not, but your brain sure thinks so. That increased heart rate and twisting feeling in your stomach believes it. Don’t lie to yourself, we all do this.

The danger of self-diagnosis

Today I want to discuss the growing problem of self diagnosis. It’s when you take your medical condition into your own uneducated hands and search for the worst, and then in a few days it was all just for nothing. You feel embarrassed and pray no one checks your browser history. It’s a sad cycle that happens to so many, myself included.

Making connections where there might not be any

I’ve spend endless nights in a panic trying to connect certain issues I may be going through to NMO. These panic attacks are typically mild, but some can burn a hole in my brain as I try to come to terms with possibly having an underlying medical emergency that might cause me to die if I'm not seen by a doctor. The medical terms you read can be so misleading and terrifying that you are suckered into believing the worst case scenario.

It doesn't go away

These scenarios speed around your mind like a NASCAR race until your head hurts and you can’t take it anymore and you go to bed with a pounding headache. Then as you sleep the dreams of your death float around because you were too lazy to call a doctor and set up an appointment, or it’s the weekend and no one wants to go to the emergency room with you on the weekend. If you do happen to enjoy your weekend, that sounds nice; please let me know.

We don't always know best

The things we do to ourselves: some of us believe that we have been through so much, so much so that we are mini doctors who can solve our own issues. We're not wrong: we have been through so much, nut we’re not doctors as much as we believe. I’m sure some get lucky and figure out their issues, but the majority of us think we have the plague and have 5 months to live.

Searching your symptoms can sometimes be useful

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen it work once personally. I have a friend who has gone through so much, and she’s pretty much on the nose when it comes to self diagnosis. But that’s truly unrealistic. Search your issues with a grain of salt. It's likely that you're not experiencing the emergency you think you are, but that might prompt you to ask your doctor questions. Tell them what you found and why you felt the need to look it up. Take notes connecting the dots so they can help figure this out. But don’t take it to heart so quickly to where your pulling your hair out. Stress is not good for the body and that is totally unneeded stress.

Search symptoms selectively

All in all, be smart about this. Have an issue that your not sure where it’s coming from? Ask a doctor. The internet hasn’t spent years in medical school and doesn’t have access to medical equipment to give you a proper diagnosis. Stay calm and stay clear of the web. It’s truly not worth the headache. I was told, after performing a search about NMO, I had only a few years to live. Here I am, still here, and I've been living with NMO for over a decade. I skipped my expiration date and glad I did. But the internet truly has frightened me on more than once. My hope is that I can help at least cure one person or their need to self-diagnosis on the internet.

Do you search the internet for your symptoms?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Neuromyelitis-Optica.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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